Hobson & Motzer has a strong, talented team that continually offers value to our company. Our idea system, a program launched in 2015, is a forum that gives every employee a voice and platform to communicate their ideas. Typical ideas center on how we can improve our quality, productivity, safety or ergonomics, and can also address quality-of-life issues on the shop floor. Some ideas have a substantial impact, while others may simply make a task a little easier to perform or an environment more pleasant to be in.

Our program is based on guidelines set by Alan G. Robinson and Dean M. Schroeder, authors of Ideas Are Free. After a core reason for a problem is identified, it is noted and addressed during weekly meetings, and an execution plan for resolution is made along with an expected completion date. The person responsible for the completion of the next step toward the resolution is identified. Every step is tracked and recorded, and progress is measured, ensuring follow-through and implementation.

We used 6S as a launching pad for our idea system. Following a 6S Kaizen, teams would meet twice a week to discuss further improvements to the organization and cleanliness of their area. We soon spread the idea to all other departments and began to expand the topics for discussion to include more lean topics. The key to the success of this system is employees have a level of autonomy to become change agents in their respective departments. This has created a sense of empowerment with the ability to impact and change the work flow and environment—all very vital to a cultural improvement, overall job satisfaction, and productivity. Today, every employee is formally trained in—and participating in—the idea system. We set goals, collect data, and measure by department to gauge engagement and impact to the business. In 2018, our idea system successfully implemented more than 1,500 ideas.